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Date of Issue: October 15, 2008

Chamber surveys on rental rule

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce is surveying Holmes Beach homeowners on a rental restriction in the city that passed more than a year ago.

At the request of some local businesspeople and residents, the city commission agreed to revisit the issue.

The city updated its land-development code with a minimum 30-day rental restriction in low-density, single-family residential zones known as R-1.

There are pockets of R-1 zoning around Holmes Beach, but the bulk of R-1 is from 66th Street north to the city limits and east of Marina Drive. A 30-day restriction also applies in Key Royale, zoned R-1AA.

The rental restriction rule, also part of the proposed comprehensive plan amendments under consideration by the city that recently passed a preliminary state check, changed the minimum from seven days to 30 days, but it does provide for a phasing out of seven-day rentals over 10 years.

Elsewhere in the city in areas zoned R-2, R-3 and R-4, a seven-day minimum is the rule.

Through a mailing, the chamber is polling homeowners on whether they do or do not support the one-month rental restriction for R-1 areas.

According to the mailer, “The elected officials normally take opinions from the public and, in the past, absentee owner opinions have not been heard.

“The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce hopes to help the silent majority voice opinions regarding the one-month rental restriction. Seasonal vacation rentals are a large piece of the support structure that allows our local businesses to sustain and flourish on Anna Maria Island.”

The chamber letter notes that “the mayor and city commissioners … have agreed to revisit the rental restriction in the months of October-November 2008.”

At a meeting earlier this year, commissioners did agree to review the rule in light of mounting economic troubles on the Island.

“Our economy is getting beat up,” said Commissioner David Zaccagnino. “Are we trying to drive business off the Island?… You can’t rent the way you’ve rented for 30 years.”

Commissioner Chair Sandy Haas-Martens agreed that the matter could come back to the commission, but not before many people away for the summer returned. She said the commission previously heard from “a deluge of people calling and saying, ‘We don’t want seven days.’… We discussed it at length.”

Haas-Martens said the issue hasn’t been placed on the agenda for the commission’s next meeting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

She added that the commission probably would not take the matter up before the Thanksgiving holiday, and perhaps not until January.

“I want to make sure all our residents are here,” she said.